Friday, December 27, 2013

Brownie Brittle

I'm very happy to know there's a cookie brittle trend in progress.  I'm all for thin, crunchy, jagged cookie edges that are chewy and crusty all at the same time.

A very big part of being a baker is thinking about texture.  Whether it's cake, creams or cookies, you can vary ingredient ratios, cooking time and temperature to arrive at airy, dense, cakey, chewy, crunchy or creamy.  Brownie Brittle shakes up the usual brownie paradigm to create a cookie that's all about texture.

This recipe is based on a version from King Arthur.  I substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil called for in the recipe because I love what it does with chocolate.  I also added sliced almonds, doubled the vanilla and I swapped out the chocolate chips for chopped bittersweet. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of nonfat dry milk powder but I left that out.

This is the kind of thing to make when you're looking to add a simple nibble-worthy pastry to a party tray.  It's really easy to prepare and provides the chocolate buzz people crave without being too heavy, too rich or too sweet.

I send all my wonderful readers my very best wishes for a Happy New Year.  Thank you for all the very kind and lovely support you've shown me over these many years.  I appreciate you very much.  I hope you have a joyful celebration with those you love.  Let's remember the past, look forward to the future and be grateful for the present.  Cheers!

Bench notes:
- I used a fruity California Olive Ranch Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil that I like to pair with chocolate.
- 6 oz of chocolate is 1 cup.  Chop the chocolate into small 1/4" pieces.  Choose semisweet if you prefer a sweeter taste.
- For a toothier bite, use whole toasted almonds, coarsely chopped.
- The instant espresso powder is added to enhance flavor but can be omitted.
- I use a small offset spatula to spread the dough out to a thin 1/8" layer.
- You can make neater slices by scoring the baked dough with a chef's knife as soon as it comes out of the oven.  When they are cool, cut into pieces with a sharp knife.
- For variation, substitute chopped hazelnuts or pecans or your favorite flavored chips.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with a light dusting of sea salt.  Add a pinch of spice to the flour mixture or a bit of peppermint extract instead of vanilla.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Brownie Brittle
based on King Arthur's Brownie Crisps
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen 2" x 1 1/2" pieces

1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 egg whites (2 oz) @ room temperature
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (10 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup (2 oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4" pieces
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or lightly greased parchment.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites until frothy and opaque.  Add the sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, oil and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Switch to a spoon and mix in the flour mixture.  Add the chopped chocolate and half of the almonds and stir until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half and place each half on a prepared baking sheet.  Spread the batter out to about a 9" x 6 1/2" rectangle and a thickness of about 1/8".  Sprinkle remaining almonds on top of each sheet.

Bake the brittle for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.  Place the pans on a wire rack to cool completely.  Break into pieces.


valerie s. said...

What a great idea!

All the best to you in the new year.

pastry studio said...

Thank you and very best to you, valerie.

Beth said...

Good lord, just when I was resolving to eat less dessert. This is a fascinating idea, somewhat reminiscent of a very thin biscotti (?). So much for resolutions, thanks for the inspiration.

pastry studio said...

Beth, it's always important to be inspired! Cheers!

Bryan said...

This cookie is awesome. The cocoa-y brownie flavor really comes through.
The texture is where it's at though. So much better than plain meringues. Delicious. I almost ate too much.
I swear buttermilk bran muffins are next.

pastry studio said...

Happy New Year, Bryan. I also couldn't get over how easy they are to make.

Glad to see you've got the bran muffins on your list. You gotta keep up!